Fire Fighting in Canada



Introduction to fats

One of the largest dietary misconceptions is the intake of fats and the effects they have on our bodies.

November 30, 1999 
By Brad Lawrence

picture_6 FitSmart is a Fire Fighting in Canada online exclusive column by Brad Lawrence, a firefirefighter and personal trainer in Leduc, Alta.  Brad can be reached at

Change it up
May 7, 2008

Can you remember the last time you completely changed your workout? The last time you changed the style, tempo, loading time and loading direction of weight in your program? One major mistake we make is letting our routine become far too redundant, to the point our body adapts. You can make one very easy change without having to have knowledge of different training styles and when to use them. That change is incorporating eccentric training. Stay with me. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.


There are two different parts of every muscle contraction: the first segment is the concentric phase; the second is the eccentric phase. Concentric movements are the “up”, or the muscle-shortening portion of the exercise (i.e.; bench press from your chest to full-arm extension). Eccentric movements are the “down”, or the muscle-lengthening portion of your exercise (i.e.; bench press from full extension of arms, lowered to your chest). Even though every workout you do incorporates some type of eccentric training, chances are you’re missing some important points.

Eccentric training is also known as negative training. It works by loading the muscle to a degree to which concentrically you couldn’t push it. No matter how weak you think you may be, every one of us is 30 to 40 per cent stronger eccentrically than concentrically. That means if you can leg press 50 pounds, you can lower 70 pounds. Also, if you can leg press 500 pounds, you can probably eccentrically lower 700 pounds. This heavy loading offers much more damage to muscle fibers and, potentially, much bigger gains in strength and size. With intense eccentric training you’re going to be able to push your muscles much farther than your normal point of failure, leading to bigger gains. Techniques and variations of eccentric training have been used for years, especially in bodybuilding. Eccentric training is commonly used to break through plateaus and provide alternate methods of training to our routines that become, well, far too routine. Outside of the bodybuilding world, doctors and physiotherapists have been using eccentric exercises to rehab patients for years.

To try some eccentric training start by doing the same program, and change the speed at which you lower your weights. Lower your weights slower near the end of your set. Try the eccentric bicep example below and use what you’ve learned to change the rest of your program.

An easy exercise to start with is a bicep curl. Take a heavy weight for yourself, something you can lift for eight to 10 reps. Curl the dumbbell like you normally would, six to eight reps, then lower the weight slowly (eccentrically) from your shoulder to your waist three times. Do this as slowly as you can, and for three to five reps. if you’re doing it properly you’re going to get an intense burn you probably haven’t felt in a while.

Eccentric training can be incorporated into almost every exercise; you just have to use your imagination. You’ll soon realize how good change can really be.

Introduction to fats
May 7, 2008

One of the largest dietary misconceptions is the intake of fats and the effects they have on our bodies. Many people simply avoid any type of fats. Today, there is no end to the low fat-no fat diets around and it’s frightening to think that some of us may be severely malnourished and at risk of disease because of too little fat intake. This idea was planted in our heads is because fat is higher in calories than both protein and carbohydrates. In one gram of fat there are nine calories, whereas in protein and carbohydrates there are only four calories. That is why foods high in fat are so high in calories. Here, more than ever, it’s important to remember that not all calories are created equal.

The role of fat role in cardiovascular disease
Most people hear the words cardiovascular disease and assume anyone who has it either ate too much fatty foods or didn’t do enough cardiovascular training, but which is it? The primary reason for the major rise in cardiovascular disease in the world today is actually very simple; human manufactured fats. Don’t agree? Apparently humans have been around for 2.8 millions years. When you look at the diets of our ancestors they were primarily high-fat meats, plants and the odd grain. People of the past certainly weren’t doing high-intensity cardio training either. For hundreds of thousands of years people have eaten high-fat diets (estimated to be way higher than today’s numbers) and the first heart attack was in 1920 in the United States. This was only 12 years after the food industry started hydrogenating plant and grain oils and the use of sugar was becoming widespread. So, before we make out fat to be the bad guy of heart disease, it’s important to know that natural fats have never caused a heart attack and some fats actually decrease your risk for heart disease.

Most foods will contain several different types of fats including saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and trans fats. These fats act very differently on your body. Fat is a necessary nutrient with many benefits. Fat provides vitamins A, D, E, and K to your body through your dietary intake. Proper fat levels also protect vital organs and help maintain healthy skin and hair. Fat also adds to flavor of foods, and keeps you fuller, longer than most low fat varieties. Many low fat products compensate for this by adding much more sugar and sweeteners to the product. In most cases, a little fat is going to be a lot healthier than a little sugar.

Below is a list of common fats you’ll see on most labels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that these fats be listed so there is no hiding what’s inside our food products. Here you’ll see the up side and down side to these fats and will learn how the can help or hurt you.

Type of Fat: Monounsaturated fat – Good!

• Pros: Probably the best kind of fat. Cooking with this type of oil’s won’t hydrogenate them as they have a very high threshold. Benefits include:
• Lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels
• Raise HDL (Good cholesterol) levels
• Primary sources: Olives, olive oil, peanut oil, cashews, almonds, peanuts, most nuts.

Type of Fat: Polyunsaturated fat – Good!

• Pros: Another healthy type of fat. Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids belong to this group.
• Lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol • Caution: Do not use these oils to cook with. High dosages of Omega 6 fatty acids can have negative effects if your 3-6 ratios are unbalanced.
• Primary sources: Seafood such as salmon and fish oils, corn, sunflower, safflower
• Primary sources Omega 3: Salmon, fish oils, nuts or seeds, green leafy veggies, flax oil
• Omega 3: Reduce risk of heart disease, lower BP, and prevent blood clots
• Omega 6: Don’t worry about these; you’ll take in plenty in your day as it is.
• Omega 9: These are non-essential, your body makes these naturally (this is why Omega 3-6-9 supplements are unnecessary).

Type of Fat: Saturated fat – Good and Bad

• Pros: When taken from natural sources saturated fat is ok in moderation. You actually need a certain amount of saturated fat in your body for calcium to absorb in your skeletal system, which is obviously very important for women.

• Cons: Most of these fats that aren’t from animals, eggs, or other natural sources get processed and altered from their natural state. In excess they raise total cholesterol and LDL, and have been shown to increase risk of heart disease.

• Primary sources: Animal meats, eggs, dairy and seafood.

Type of Fat: Trans fat – Deadly!

• Pros: None
• Cons: Trans fat is probably the most common form of poison people ingest on a regular basis. These oils are created when a manufacturer superheats oil and turns it into a solid state of matter through ‘hydrogenation’. Older margarines are an example of a hydrogenated product. These fats are man-made and our livers don’t know how to properly digest them. These fats increase your risk of heart disease by numbers far greater than saturated fat alone, even in small amounts. Numbers are staggering, consumption of only 5g a day will increase risk by 25%! Health Canada stats the average intake of trans fat is 38g! Absolutely avoid any product containing trans fat. The city of Calgary has gone so far to institute a city wide ban on trans fat in any food, starting in 2008.
• Primary sources: Cooking oil, vegetable oil, margarine, artificial peanut butters, French fries, chips, baked goods, chicken, cheeses and more.

Remember to consume fats in moderation, and try to take them from natural sources. Read your labels and stay healthy.

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